A chance meeting with Glenn who runs the turtle sanctuary and conservation centre on Pulau Kepayang, close to the anchorage off Tanjung Kelayang on Belitung, led to an invitation to visit the sanctuary.
Glenn, who was born and raised in Belitung and is half Dutch, half Indonesian by birth, speaks excellent English and gave us a great introduction to the work he and others have contributed to establishing this excellent initiative.
This and other conservation projects such as coral planting, have been implemented by a local NGO (Kelompok Peduli Lingkungan Belitung) to protect the outstanding natural environment of Belitung and to raise the awareness of local people on its importance.
At the Kepayang Conservation Centre a turtle sanctuary has an egg hatchery and an array of tanks where the turtles are transferred to once they hatch. They stay in the tanks until they are strong enough to face life in their own in the sea.
When we were there we were able to see scores of brand new hatchlings in one of the tanks and in others, there were much livelier, larger and more active turtles that had been hatched for around six weeks.
Glenn told us that by allowing them to grow and become strong in the tanks increases the turtle’s chances of survival from around ten per cent to approximately eighty per cent.
When we told him that we had seen turtle eggs on sale in the market, Glenn said that the Conservation Center is unable to enforce a ban on egg collection but through education the hope is for this practice to disappear before long. In the meantime, the work of the Centre is ensuring the increase in turtle population in Belitung.
The Conservation Centre depends solely on donations for its survival so if you happen to be in Belitung drop in and if you can like what you see, make a donation.
After our visit we took the dinghy to explore the beautiful white sand beach on Belitung that we could see from our anchorage where a rather elegant balconied building hid behind palm trees and granite rocks.
The building appeared to be closed up as were the small beach bungalows nearby so we were free to enjoy the glorious surroundings completely on our own.